uncovering curriculum with help from the food truck

food truckAn interest in the amusement park inspired the students to research things they might find there. As mentioned in the last post, they became very intrigued by food trucks. We googled images of food trucks and the students decided which pictures they wanted to print to use as a reference. A group of students was very interested in finding the proper wheels needed for the truck.  Once they chose an image from which to model their wheel, they decided they needed something round to use as a basic template.  They compared a few different materials and quickly decided that the tree cookie was best.

food truck wheels

Another group of students researched other elements needed for the food truck. They discussed the need for a “sign” to show the foods they could sell. This need for a “sign” led to discussions about a menu board and how they are the same or different from restaurant menus. Our Early Literacy Teacher, Mrs. Pierre, supported the students as they researched and organized their menu board.

researching menu

A problem arose when it came time to prop open the serving window. The cardboard was too thick for the students to cut, so they asked me to cut two strips which they would use to hold up the window. They soon discovered that the cardboard began to bend and would not support the cardboard flap. This provided an authentic opportunity for problem-solving while experimenting with different materials. After trying more cardboard, pipe cleaners, thin popsicle sticks and thick popsicle sticks, they decided on pieces of dowel and string because the dowel was “…long and the popsicle sticks were too short.”

food truck problem solving

constructing food truck

The food truck is now open for business. While engaging in dramatic play, the students have been developing their literacy skills as they refer to the menu and write food orders and receipts. They are counting and adding amounts of money and they are reflecting on the need to revise their play.

food truck purchase “O” decided they needed a copy of the menu behind the counter so they could also refer to the prices as their classmates ordered. She also noticed that “… at the food truck we don’t have any cents. Just dollars. We need cents because I wanted the snow cone and I needed 3 cents, but “S” said we didn’t have any cents.”

“M” decided to work on food orders. He found images on the iPad and decided to use one as a model. Based on the picture, he wrote “010” on all of his copies. This led to an interesting conversation:

Mr. P.: How do you use this order?

M: You give it to the chef and he will know what to make.

Mr. P.: Why do you have “010” on all of them?

“M” looked at the number and read them as the number one. I asked him to look closely at the number and covered the first zero.  He realized it was the number 10.

Mr. P.: “Why do you think it says ‘Your Order Number’ and the number 10?

M: It’s for the customer.  Customer #1, Customer #2, Customer #3 (counted to 10).

Mr. P.: What will happen if they all have the same number?

M: You will get all mixed up! You won’t know who is first, second, third…                            I need to change them.

food order

As the students engage in play at the food truck, I’m noticing that they are not only reflective, but that they can and do evaluate what is working and what changes need to be made to further their play (and their learning). It’s also a reminder for me to be present. If we see the child as capable and as protagonists in their learning, and we see ourselves as researchers, then we will be able to recognize curriculum expectations being uncovered as students and teachers engage in the research together.

igniting a new spark

RoyThompsonHallIt has been quite a while since my last post and a lot has been happening in Grade 1. We have been looking at different materials and how they are used to build structures. Last month, the students enjoyed listening to the symphony at Roy Thompson Hall. They were intrigued by the surrounding buildings but especially by the shape of Roy Thompson Hall and of course, the CN Tower. The next day, we had some interesting discussion about what they noticed about the buildings. The students talked about the glass and the shapes they saw.  We had also begun to discuss different materials that objects are made from. So how did all this lead to a food truck? One of the ways children were invited to create a structure was at the studio using strips of paper.

amusement park sculptures

During our debrief, student after student shared that they created an amusement park. They were excited to describe their structures – waterslides, rollercoasters, and bumper cars were the most popular. In response to their interest, they were encouraged to research what else they could find at an amusement park. Take a close look at the picture.

researching amusement park

food truck

During the next sharing circle, students shared what they found out about amusement parks.  “O” shared the food truck. Co-incidentally, the students were in the process of co-constructing a restaurant for the dramatic play area. Several of them asked if they could make a food truck instead.  We took a survey and it was unanimous. And so begun the planning and construction of the food truck which I post in a subsequent entry.

the coll-APP-orative – connecting and collaborating through apps

I’m excited to announce our very first collaborative post! A few fellow bloggers and I have come together to each review an app that we are exploring or have found helpful in our programs. Each of us has posted our app review on our blog. Links to the blogs are listed at the end of this post. Please click on the links to each of the blogs to find a review of that app. I hope you find the reviews helpful and enjoy your visits to each of the blogs! Thank you to Laurel, Joanne, Heather, Tracy and Tina for your continued inspirations and for participating in this collaboration!

noteledgeLately, I have been very interested in apps that support the documentation of student learning. I was introduced to NoteLedge last year but didn’t take a close look at this app until recently. If you are using this app, you will undoubtedly be aware of its versatility and ease of use. I originally considered this as a note-taking app, but it has so much more to offer. NoteLedge allows you to create as many notebooks as you like. This allows you to create notebooks for your personal use as well as notebooks for each of your students. NoteLedge is a good app for anecdotal notes, electronic portfolios and projects.

NoteLedge allows you to:

  • Take notes
  • Handwrite
  • Type text
  • Draw
  • Insert pictures from your library
  • Take pictures within the app
  • Record audio
  • Record video
  • Insert a table

A palm rest easily slides around the screen so you can quickly access it when you need it.

One of the unique features is the Navigator and Browser window.  The Navigator Window allows you to crop, cut and paste images.  The Browser Window allows you to clip content from the internet.  Please consider copyright and only clip images that are royalty-free or for which permission has been granted.


One of the things I like most about this app is the ability to take or embed videos, voice recordings and pictures. These features can further enhance documentation and also be used as part of students’ learning stories.  The screen can tend to look busy with all the tool bars, but they can easily be hidden so that student learning takes centre stage.


There are several options for sharing your notes, documentation or student work.  These include email, Facebook and Twitter.  Pages can also be printed and saved to your photo library. In-app purchases such as stamps, brushes, covers and layouts are available. Help is a click away with PDF and video tutorials. Notebooks can be backed up to Dropbox, box, Google Drive, FTP or DAV.

For the most part, NoteLedge is user-friendly, but I found I did need to play with manipulating a few of the features. I would prefer if the handwriting was smoother, but the versatility of this app is hard to beat.

If you use NoteLedge or any of the other apps featured on our collaborative posts, we would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment to let us know how they are working for you and how you are using them with your students.

More app reviews are a click away. Please visit my fellow bloggers for their reviews on:


Vine – reviewed by Laurel Fynes                      http://www.thiskindylife.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-coll-app-orative-connecting-and.html

PicCollage – reviewed by Tracy Pickard  http://www.passionatelycuriousinkindergarten.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-coll-app-orative-connecting-and.html

iAnnotate – reviewed by Joanne Babalis  http://www.myclassroomtransformation.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-coll-app-orative-connecting-and.html

Book Creator – reviewed by Heather McKay  http://ignitingcreativity.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/the-coll-app-orative-connecting-and-collaborating-through-apps/

SoundBrush – reviewed by Tina Zita                     http://misszita.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/the-coll-app-orative-connecting-and-collaborating-through-apps/

welcoming the iPad

ipadWe have been very fortunate to receive an iPad to use with the children. So far, we’ve used it to document some of the children’s learning through pictures and video. The children have also been using it to draw pictures, voice-record stories, type observations and write about their learning. I found it very interesting that one of my emergent readers automatically left spaces between words when she used the keyboard, but often needs prompting to do so when she writes on paper. I wonder if she’s making the connection to how text appears in a book? Does she leave a space because she is typing or because the format is similar? Maybe she’s just at the stage where she doesn’t need as much prompting. Regardless of the reason it’s something I’m paying closer attention to.

I’ve been on the lookout for apps that are open-ended. There are many highly rated Kindergarten apps available, but five-stars doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to work in the program. Whether on paper or in electronic format, a worksheet is a worksheet. I prefer apps that are versatile and that support children’s creativity and curiosity.

Here are a few that we’ve used so far:

mystoryMy Story This is a great app for writing and drawing. It’s a simple story maker and book creator. The children can draw a picture, take a picture, or import one from the Photo Gallery. There is a text feature, so they can write about their pictures using the keyboard or they can use the drawing feature to write words. My Story also has voice recording so the children can narrate their stories or describe their pictures. It’s also great for creating and sharing class books.


Bamboo Paper can also be used to handwrite and import pictures. A few of the children have asked if they can write about something they’ve made using the iPad. Using a stylus or their finger, they can write on the screen.


Sock Puppets allows children to choose their own puppet character, stage and scenery. They can create their own puppet show by recording their voices. It’s a great app to encourage                                   story telling.

piccollage-medium-bc9d04270dd2473fb9251a7a0f0b6cbePic Collage is another app we’ve used both for our own documentation purposes and with the children. The app allows you to create a photo collage and add text. It gives children another way to represent their learning.

noteshelfOne of my absolute favourite apps is Noteshelf. Last year I decided to use my iPad for assessment purposes. Before the iPad, I took notes on stickies and filed them under each student’s name. I wanted an app that would allow me to quickly handwrite a note and take pictures. With Noteshelf, each of my students has a “notebook” where I jot down observations including pictures. It’s also a great way to set up electronic portfolios or journals for the children. Although it’s my favourite handwriting app, it doesn’t have voice recording….yet. Personally, I’d love to see this app include voice recording, tabs, and the ability to annotate PDFs. The great thing is that you can provide feedback to the app developers, so if you’re a teacher and you use Noteshelf, please take the time to share your feedback.

happy valentine’s day!

valentine play dough This morning the children were invited to a Valentine’s Day party.  What makes this party so special is that it was organized and run by the Grade 5 students in Mrs. Knapp’s class.  With Mrs. Knapp’s support and guidance, they organized, set-up and led the activities for the Kindergarten children.  We took some pictures on our iPad and did some shared writing when we returned to our classroom.  We would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Mrs. Knapp and her students.  You made today very special for our youngest learners and you were wonderful leaders and role-models.  There is something so powerful about students leading students.  The children had a lot of fun!  We now have a new book written by the children.  I’m sure they will read it often to remember this special day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

valentine's daycupid sayscomputer labvalentine playdoughvalentine's craftsIMG_0177singingvalentine's cookies